REPORT of HAMNET WCP’s involvement in two cycle tours February 2017

HAMNET Western Cape was again invited to assist with communications during two cycling events in February.

The first was the el Shaddai 99er Cycle Tour, on 11th February, involving some 4000 riders and 14 mobile radio stations. The race started at the racecourse in Durbanville, and progressed out towards the R44 between Paarl and Wellington, before crossing the countryside along the Philadelphia Road, and then down to the N7 via van Schoorsdrift, before entering Durbanville again up Vissershok, a total distance of just over 100km. A shorter route trimmed off some of the circuit for the less ambitious riders.

The JOC was established at the Racecourse, where Metro EMS’ Disaster Bus and my ancient Autovilla were parked next to each other. The medical contingent for the race plus ambulance dispatch and sweep vehicle dispatch occupied the disaster bus, while Carol, ZS1MOM,  and I occupied the van under a roof for coolth, and ran the radio comms. We communicated with the ambulance and sweep dispatch by means of a handheld VHF radio. Two VHF repeaters in the Cape were isolated from the inked system for our transmissions, a simplex frequency between the rovers was organised in case one of them could not be heard at the JOC and needed a message relayed, and a mobile stand-in APRS digipeater was installed on the top of the Meerendal Hill by Alister ZS1OK, to give better APRS coverage to all the vehicles tracked. All the 14 rovers had trackers in their vehicles, and we installed portable trackers in the 5 rescue ambulances and the three organiser’s race marshal’s vehicles.

The day started cool, but rapidly became very hot, and by lunchtime, the temperature on Vissershok, where the last riders were entering Durbanville was 35 degrees. In fact the medical team pulled the last few riders off the race (in any case the cut-off would have disqualified them) before they finished the climb up Vissershok, because of the heat, and the risk of exhaustion.

There were no major incidents during the race, and the course was declared cleared before 13h00. My thanks to  ZR1FR, and ZS1’s AGP, MUP, JM, BTD, V, PXK, LN and his wife PTT, DAV, JNT, DUG, PVV, PDE, and of course, MOM and OK.

The second race was the Lion’s Journey for Sight and Service, held on the same Sunday as the Dischem ride for Sight in Gauteng, namely the 19th February. This race is usually held on the first full weekend of the New Year down in the extreme Southern Suburbs of the Peninsula. For some reason not clear to me, it was postponed to a week after the 99er, and then held roughly in the same area as the 99er had been! This had a huge effect on the entries and the enthusiasm of the riders, and the Lions are to be pitied for the hard work they put into a race that was never going to be very profitable for the charities usually supported.

The Race started and finished at Killarney Race track North of Milnerton, and the route followed the Contermanskloof Road and then Tiekiedraai over the Durbanville Hills to enter Durbanville up the well known avenue of trees. After circling around the centre of town, the riders left via Wellington Rd, turned on to Fisantekraal, and then out to the four-way stop at the R304, where they turned left and up to the crossing with the Philadelphia Rd at the Silos, left towards Philadelphia, and then left again to come down the Adderley Rd (M58), right on to Malanshoogte, and finally back to Killarney via the Contermanskloof Road again, a distance of 74km. A shorter route clipped off some 20km for the less ambitious.

For this race, we ran the JOC out of my Autovilla at Killarney, situated next to the medical and organiser contingents in a large workshop on the site. Eight rovers manned the route, Alister ZS1OK again installed his mobile APRS digipeater on Meerendal, and I managed the JOC on my own. We equipped two ambulances and the two back markers for the races with APRS trackers, so I could report to the organisers on the state of the race.

However, this was the first race we have managed in Cape Town entirely on UHF repeaters. It being Sunday morning, the usual VHF repeaters were occupied with bulletins, and so we used the 434.625 UHF repeater on Tygerberg, which was pretty central to the course, and HAMNET’s portable UHF repeater at the same site as the
APRS digipeater, on 438.700MHz, to cover any gaps. It turned out that there were almost no gaps, and the route was well covered by the 434.625 repeater.

The entries for this race were far fewer, and there were no important incidents, so the field was back at the finish by about 11h00. HAMNET received grateful acknowledgments from the Lions organisers, and we in turn promised to be back for both races next year. Hopefully, the Lion’s race will be separated both geographically and chronologically from the 99er next year, to allow both races to benefit from the number of riders entering.

During the event, a call from Wilderness Search and Rescue was received for helpers to retrieve the body of a climber who had fallen on Table Mountain the night before. ZS1GS and ZS1OSK were given permission to leave their rover duties early, to be able to proceed to the call-out. Please see the report on that retrieval by ZS1GS on this same website.

My thanks go to ZS1’s LN and his wife PTT, PXK, EEE, PDE, YT, OSK, GS, BTD, and OK at the digipeater site. Without ZS1OK, neither of these races would have been as successfully marshaled as they were.